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Sometimes it’s the journey, not the destination that makes a movie worth sitting through. That’s certainly the case with multi-Italian award winner and sleeper hit Basilicata Coast to Coast , which is screening as part of the Italian Contemporary Film Festival.

As discussed in a TFS cover story earlier this month, Canada excels at road movies in a way that other countries don’t. That makes it especially interesting to see another country’s take on the genre, especially when it’s as thoughtful and delightfully breezy as this first feature from writer/director/actor Rocco Papaleo.

The odd, but well-executed premise behind the film concerns a band that’s scheduled to play a music festival located on the opposite side of Basilicata. Rather than do the normal thing and drive the distance (which would take a mere two hours), the band’s leader Nicola (Papaleo) persuades everyone to walk there over a 10 day period with an accompanying horse cart full of their equipment. The band: Salvatore (Paolo Briguglia), Rocco (Alessandro Gassman), and Franco (Max Gazze) are on board since they see it as both a smart publicity stunt and a chance to bond with one another.

Along with an only partially willing journalist from a religious magazine (Giovanna Mezzogiorno), the band sets out across the landscape, jamming, hanging with the locals and occasionally examining their motivations and ambitions as they trudge closer to their destination.

Papaleo manages to make a film that plants you right in the centre of beautiful southernItaly, showing you the sights without making it seem travelogue-y or like the local Tourism Board floated him a few bucks towards the production budget. He’s also a grounding force in a film that could have very easily become pretentious and unrealistic in its portrayal of a bunch of sensitive dudes talking about their feelings ““ his presence is especially welcome when the film’s forward momentum falters a bit during the final act. It also helps that he’s smartly fleshed out the other band members just enough that it’s easy for the audience to care about their headspace and where their journey as a band is about to take them.

Basilicata Coast to Coast is screening on Friday, June 29, 2012 at 7:00 pm at the Italian Contemporary Film Festival.   Check the festival website for more details.